The “Football Leaks” focus shifts to clubs with Middle Eastern owners
Ongoing controversy continues to surround the “Beautiful Game” as some 70 million documents (3.4 terabytes of data), remain the subject of investigation by journalists from members of European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).
The current report of the investigation relates to possible financial fraud in relation to the Financial Fair Play rule of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). This rule, approved in 2010, aims to prevent professional football clubs from spending more than they earn in the pursuit of success. The aim is to prevent clubs from doing this and then getting into financial difficulties that could endanger their long-term survival.
In December 2016 findings from the first files disclosed how some of football’s most prominent figures, including Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho, avoided tax on some earnings through their use of offshore accounts. Since then, both European and national regulators have been questioning representatives of European football bodies about their tax structures.
The latest information released concentrates on the activities of Middle Eastern individuals and organisations who have become increasingly influential in football. So far they have focused on Manchester City, owned by Sheikh Mansour, deputy-prime minister of the UAE, and Paris St Germain, which belongs to Qatar Sports Investments.
The documents raise questions about the arrangements between these clubs and the football authorities regarding sponsorship deals and Financial Fair Play. They suggest the authorities may have dealt unevenly with the application of the sport’s rules, making it difficult for club owners to navigate these already complex regulations.
The investigators say that they will also be turning the spotlight on tax avoidance arrangements entered into by clubs and players.
JHA is a leading authority in contentious tax and commercial litigation, having achieved Band One rankings in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for the fifth consecutive year. A significant part of its practice is devoted to football-related tax disputes involving clubs, players and agents.
An Assessment to Tax is never ‘stale’, but it might be out of date: HMRC v Tooth
This article briefly discusses the key points arising out of the decision of the UK Supreme Court in HMRC v Tooth  UKSC 17. The case considered (1) whether a discovery assessment could become “stale” and (2) the meaning of the phrase “deliberate inaccuracy”.
VATA 1994 s.47, Agency, Onward Supply Relief, & Double Taxation
On 12 July 2021, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) (“FTT”) released its decision in Scanwell Logistics (UK) Limited v HMRC  UKFTT 261 (TC), rejecting the taxpayer’s claim for onward supply relief (“OSR”).
Whilst OSR is now limited, post-Brexit, to goods imported into Northern Ireland for onward supply to the EU, the FTT’s discussion of agency under section 47 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“VATA”) is of broader interest.
The case serves as a reminder of the significant financial consequences that can result from errors in tax planning, as Scanwell was ultimately held liable for £5.7 million in unpaid import VAT despite the fact that the imported goods almost immediately left the UK (which, if properly planned, could have meant Scanwell was relieved from liability to import VAT).
Draft Finance Bill 2022—tax avoidance measures
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, considers the draft Finance Bill 2022 clauses published on 20 July 2021 in relation to tax avoidance and recent updates to the tax avoidance regime.
Getting Closer: A Global Minimum Tax on Corporations
On 1 July 2021, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that countries representing over 90% of global GDP had agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations (“GMCT”). The GMCT seeks to put a floor on tax competition on corporate income through the introduction of a minimum corporate tax of at least 15%. Whilst certain elements give rise to positive expectations, some caveats should be noted. Much will depend on (1) the outcome of future political negotiations and (2) the detail of the drafting at international and national levels.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.